UNDP celebrates World Environment Day

Jun 5, 2013

Kimironko Market in Kigali (Photo: Elena Ganan/UNDP)

The World Environment Day was established by the UN general Assembly in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment and is celebrated every June 5th. It is a day which aims to stimulate worldwide awareness of the environment and encourage political attention and action.

This year’s theme focuses on food waste and food loss and is captured as Think.Eat.Save. In Rwanda, under the umbrella of the One UN, UNDP organized a panel discussion on how to reduce our food print in Hotel Lemigo with participation from the Rwanda Environmental Agency, the Rwanda Agricultural Board, and representatives of the private sector. At the event, a short film was screened, produced by the One UN, on the challenges Rwanda is facing.

This Reduce Your Foodprint campaign supports  the UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge, which was launched last year at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

It draws attention both to the issue and the absurdity that high volumes of perfectly edible produce are never making it from the farm to our dinner plates.

It is worth to note that we live in a world of plenty where food production outstrips demand. However, about one third of all food produced worldwide gets lost or wasted in the food production and consumption systems, enough to feed Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry, 870 million are undernourished, more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger and childhood stunting is a silent pandemic.

In Rwanda, just like in many other developing nations, food loss and waste emanates from wide-ranging managerial and technical limitations in harvesting techniques, inadequate storage facilities, transportation, pests, processing and marketing systems.

Although significant progress has been made in the last few years, according to the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) and Nutrition Survey 2012, the prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children under age 5 is still high at 43%.  

The Government of Rwanda and various stakeholders are making significant efforts to address the issue. For example, the Ministry of Agriculture has developed a third generation of a Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture with an intention of increasing crop and livestock production, enhance irrigation, boost marketing and value chains, research as well as mainstreaming environment in agriculture. Increasing agricultural production and marketing of the produce is also a priority in the EDPRS II as part of rural development vision.  The UN has played its role by supporting implementation of projects related to ecosystem management, soil fertility and erosion control, climate change adaptation and mitigation as well as livelihood diversification.

More efforts are needed to address the problem of food loss and waste. With relative ease and a few simple changes to our habits, we can significantly shift this paradigm. That is why this year’s campaign aims to raise global awareness and showcase solutions relevant to developed and developing countries alike. In order to prevent further waste, governments, development agencies and organisation like the UN must work together to help change people's mind-sets on waste and discourage wasteful practices by farmers, traders, supermarkets and consumers.

Something can be done about it and through the Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint campaign,  people across the country have been invited  to join the UN in an effort to both raise awareness and to take practical actions to eliminate food loss and wastage. Reducing food waste leads to more efficiency and effective recycling of resources, as well as most importantly, move towards a world where everyone has enough to eat.

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